From Retreat 2019: Winter on the Island

Friends whispered that Winter on the Island was the most magical  I’ve been going to Holy Island for almost two decades – sometimes twice or three times a year. But until this January I had never been there in the Winter.  Most of the Mindsprings retreats take place in the Summer and Autumn when vivid-green […]

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The Morning Dread: Shaking Hands with Anxiety

A horrible year of anxiety  completely ruined my sleep cycle. I used to sleep like a log. Like my father in fact, who falls asleep instantly and wakes early each morning. I used to sleep like that. A satisfying black-out with no consequences that I can remember. I simply got up and started my day.  […]

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The pleasure of being scared in the dark

Frensham Pond in Surrey was where I felt it.  Feeling pretty crappy after a weird virus that left me with really sore knuckle-joints and ankles, I bailed on a team dinner and stayed at the hotel. I thought it would be good to go for a little walk before crashing under the duvet. All week […]

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Working with emotions using meditation

The evolutionary background of working with emotions using meditation. We are emotional creatures.  From an evolutionary perspective, we’ve been emotional about 54x longer than we’ve been rational. And this is reflected in our bodies and brains.  Evolution doesn’t work by clean starts. It’s always working with what  was there before. So when our hominid forebears […]

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“Are you sitting uncomfortably…?” – The perils of being comfortable

A failure to empty the dishwasher correctly amounts to a War Crime There’s a great Milan Kundera quote: “The longing for order is at the same time a longing for death, because life is an incessant disruption of order.” This is something that I have – in a slightly more buoyant fashion – been contemplating […]

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Between retreat. 

Moving from field to field It is a week since we packed up and left Croydon Hall in Somerset. That was the location of Reggie and Caroline’s UK retreat for Dharma Ocean. A 10-day experience of blistering intensity and also beauty. It was called “Fields of enlightenment”.  The day after tomorrow I head up to […]

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Dissociation: Greying out the Mind

Since finishing my therapy degree 6 years ago, dissociation has haunted me…   The image I often use to describe dissociation is the ‘greyed out’ options you see on your computer when you click on a tab. You really want to press it but, for some reason,  the system has greyed it out. For humans, […]

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Dancing directly with the holy terror of death

Ever since teaching a course on the Buddhist four reminders in February this year, I’ve been dancing with the holy terror around death. I chant the Four Reminders every morning as part of my practice and those earthy Tibetan phrases push my nose into the terrific aspects of being alive. (Terrific being the adjective from terror […]

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What is somatic meditation?

somatic-meditation

What does this word somatic mean and how does it relate to meditation? Somatic meditation means ‘of the body’ in contrast to ‘of the mind’ or the psyche. The soma points us to the raw material of the human body rather than the mind. For several years now I’ve been moving towards a style of […]

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FROM RETREAT #5: Sitting with the Jellyfish Within

It’s amazing over the course of a retreat day how many different Alistairs show up on the cushion. I was practising around 8 hours a day within 4 session and each time I padded across the garden to the Shrine room and sat down on my zafu, I was astonished how completely varied the constellation […]

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